Kazakhstan to seek damages from Transneft for tainted oil loaded in Ust-Luga

Kazakhstan to seek damages from Transneft for tainted oil loaded in Ust-Luga

NUR-SULTAN/MOSCOW: Kazakh oil flowing via Russia to be loaded on tankers at the Baltic Sea port of Ust-Luga has been contaminated and Kazakhstan plans to seek compensation from Russian pipeline monopoly Transneft, a senior Kazakh energy official said.

Russia's oil export flows have been disrupted since April, when high levels of organic chloride were found in crude pumped via the Druzhba pipeline to Ust-Luga and other European countries.

Six tankers with 598,000 tonnes of tainted oil were loaded at Ust-Luga, Kazakh Deputy Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Aset Magaulov told Reuters.

"First, companies that sold the oil will talk to buyers about a discount, then ... (Kazakh pipeline operator) Kaztransoil will have separate talks with Transneft," Magaulov said.

Transneft did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment.

Magaulov added that two separate tankers with 199,000 tonnes of clean Kazakh oil were loaded from Ust-Luga between May 10 and May 15. Russia's energy ministry said earlier that clean oil had started to be loaded at Ust-Luga.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak said on Thursday that Transneft would compensate all parties for losses incurred from contaminated oil if they could prove the damage, while the first European refinery declared force majeure.

"Based on the oil agreement with Transneft, given the fact that we supplied clean oil but it got contaminated ... there should be compensation from Transneft," Magaulov said.

Kazakhstan, which produces around 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil, is the second-biggest oil producer among former Soviet countries after Russia. Kazakhstan exports around 12 percent of its oil via Russia's Ust-Luga.

Magaulov said a preliminary agreement had been reached with buyers under which they would take the contaminated oil at a discount. However, talks on such a discount are continuing and there is no estimate of potential compensation.

ExxonMobil, Chevron, Eni, CNPC and Lukoil are among the international companies producing oil in Kazakhstan.

The Druzhba pipeline splits in Belarus into a northern spur to Poland and Germany and a southern leg via Ukraine to Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Only Hungary has resumed test flows to see whether its refinery equipment can withstand the contaminated oil.

Druzhba can pump 1 million bpd, or 1 percent of global oil demand. Ukraine and Belarus have said they will ask Transneft for compensation.

(Reporting by Mariya Gordeyeva in NUR-SULTAN and Alla Afanasyeva in MOSCOW; Writing by Katya Golubkova; Editing by Dale Hudson)

Source: Reuters